The part where I write stuff about bands.
The cover of Legs Dead and Well’s Spring 2012 courtesy of their bandcamp website
Greetings, how are you? This is the part where I look at my Sound on the Sound e-mail inbox that consists of over 18,000 messages and have a panic attack.
All this spam mail that’s telling me about secret Green Day concerts in Los Angeles and who is playing Jimmy Kimmel next week. All these delightful, carefully typed electronic messages giving me a false sense of importance. The only thing scarier than my father’s temper after I’ve received a terrible report card, seeing an inbox that you know you’re no match for. Where do I begin my attack? Do I start deleting e-mails telling me about O.A.R pre-sales? Or maybe I begin my perilous journey with a disgruntled local band who thinks I am ignoring them? In reality there’s a unspeakable amount of public relations people taking throw pillows the size of metropolitan areas and snuffing out their shrill cries for publicity. Their Baby Huey volitions reaching far beyond the prison like cell they call a workspace. If an e-mail subject line or band description caught my eye, I tried my best to throw that thread a life vest. Some of them would probably prefer to have drowned instead.
Houndstooth is an indie rock band from Portland, Oregon…
God, just read that sentence, seems so average doesn’t it? Indie rock band from
a place where the dream of the nineties is alive and well chalk to the back of the brunch line with them. Modern “indie rock” is slightly above “Americana” on the totem pole of absolute boredom. I can’t stand the sight of the stuff. Drummer play drums like you just learned how. Bass player, make sure nobody can see or hear you. Stop embarrassing us! Left guitar player, play three chords during the verse and two during the chorus. Guitar player right, you may use reverb, tremolo and/or vibrato on your guitar leads at your leisure. Don’t forget to play a few minor chords in between your leads. Girl with nice bangs optional. Poor fashion sense encouraged. Distinguishable songs not allowed. Houndstooth have grown on me slightly. After my first listen I was less than impressed. After a few more listens I’m only slightly more impressed than I was before. Like I have said a thousand times previously, if it’s casually jangly, easy to tap your foot to and pretty predictable, I’m not going to be into it. Gentle readers, I know for many of you this type of Sonny and the Sunsets Hunx and His Punx Seapony The Pains of Being Pure at Heart etc. placid Stratocaster existence is your bread and butter. Sounds good at parties, right? It doesn’t give you headaches when turned up loudly. I enjoy Houndstooth more than all the bands I just named. I think there’s enough interesting stuff going on here that I feel challenged enough as a listener. I appreciate the drunken swing and sway of “Beekeepers.” The song kind of reminds me of a chaperon who’s at a high school dance and has had too much to drink. In the mind of the chaperon, their social interactions are smooth and their demeanor is possibly desirable. On the other hand, there are several juniors who are wondering who’s that clumsy drunken stranger with the sunglasses on, having too much of a good time dancing alone. That’s this song in a nutshell, clumsy and endearing. “Crystal City” sounds like Sonic Youth at their most well-behaved and “conventional.” Hearing this song makes me wish Katie Bernstein she sang Kim Gordon’s vocal parts. Oh yes internet, I just said that. I love Sonic Youth as much as the next twentysomething, long-term fan of rock music. Depending on what song you want to discuss, I think being exquisitely flayed would have been paradise compared to listening to an entire Sonic Youth song in which Kim Gordon takes on the lead vocals. “Hidden Hollers” is a song straight out of a late 1970s movie scene featuring teenagers that like rolling joints in their parents living room while sitting on a green couch and wearing bright yellow shorts. If that scene is appealing to you, you either like this song or you should stay away from minors. Hmmmmm…
If you like indie rock (and you might because you are reading this website), then you should listen to Houndstooth (the Portland band, there are like four or five others).
The Illness - A Monument to Our Gilded Age Good grief, this band sounds like their name. Ladies and gentlemen, never underestimate the presentation of your product, it’s very important. If this San Francisco band would have approached this album differently then maybe they could have saved themselves….from themselves. The end result sounds like S.C.I.E.N.C.E era Incubus playing Avenged Sevenfold songs with a dash of Tool’s style thrown in there for good measure. Now, some of you (and I do mean some) might be into this album. The good news is that all these songs stand on their own as individual concepts and the music is being performed by talented musicians. The bad news is that these talented musicians decided to construct these songs and the lead singer is from another planet where Mike Patton, M. Shadows, Brandan Boyd and Vince Neil are the four heads you see on Mt. Rushmore. There are quite a few occasions on this record where you go, “Huh, this isn’t a bad idea.” Then all of a sudden that approach is flattened quicker than Frogger on the Beltway during rush hour. Game over.
On the other hand I must give them credit for the level of creative prowess showed in their band biography. Check out their website to see what I’m talking about.
Legs Dead and Well – Spring 2012 EP
This band from Oklahoma City has made my life much more enjoyable over the past few months than it normally would be. There was a time where I’d journey to Legs Dead and Well bandcamp site and listen to “Long Shadows” on a daily basis. It even got to the point where I bookmarked the site on my iPhone for trips downtown on the 74. When I wasn’t barely catching the bus in the morning, I’d put the track on repeat for when my life came to a complete stand still on I-5 for an unnecessary amount of time. There are a couple things about the second half of “Long Shadows” that makes me wish it would never end. The casually sung vocals, the fluid yet expressed way the drums are played, the way the you can count the main guitar chord progressions on one hand yet it seems like the notes are infinite. This has been my “Song of the Year” since March (Killer Mike and some other folks have given it a serious run for its money). I’m kind of watching my word count, so I’ll avoid waxing poetic once more but I enjoy “Cotton Comfort” almost as much. The only bad thing I have to say about this release is that “Fly Easy” seems weak in comparison to the other three songs. This is America, I can nitpick if I want.
Rising from the ashes of the
super super super mega ultra very under-appreciated Seattle band Koko and the Sweetmeats ia the proverbial phoenix is the entity known as Prism Tats. During the months that the rest of the country calls “Summer,” Prism Tats (also known by the possible government name of G. Vandercrimp) has been posting songs to his bandcamp. We have reached the tail end of August and there are six songs available for your consumption. “Death or Fame” kind of reminds me of Madonna’s “Into the Groove” in the way the drum machine snare has the cheesy yet lovable 1980s echo. When I first listened to this song I wanted it to have been recorded in “traditional” rock and roll band style. You know what I’m talking about, two guitars, bass and some drums. Now that I have listened to the song over thirty times during the course of several weeks, I totally disagree with my initial assessment. I think it sounds perfect the way it is. I’m curious as to how this all translates live (ie. Maybe a full band would be more exciting?) but I think this track has legs. I can see scores of people, who are not nearly as cool as they think they are ( like yours truly), flocking to Prism Tats as if he’s giving away money for nothing.* After Koko and the Sweetmeats didn’t elicit the attention they deserved, I don’t see anything wrong with that.
Gentle readers, I am going to try and type these out on a weekly basis from now on. I am so behind in real life that it has dragged down my pretend life here on the internet. Sadly, the blogosphere waits for no man.
*Writer’s note – In no way am I saying G. Vandercrimp is going to give you money if you follow him around. Mr. Vandercrimp has the legal ability to file a restraining order against you. Sound on the Sound will not under any circumstances pay for your court costs. You do realize we do all of this for free, right?